WNBA MVP Race, Week 4
A look at the top-10 WNBA players gunning for the MVP trophy.
by Christian Mordi / @mordi_thecomeup
Despite being only four weeks into the WNBA season, there have been plenty of surprise teams and players. The Chicago Sky have been amazing, tied for first in the Eastern Conference while the dynamic duo of Epiphanny Prince and Sylvia Fowles lead the league in scoring and rebounding, respectively.
Within the top five, the stars are not only putting up big numbers, but closing out games as well. As the season goes along and the dog days of summer kick in, we will get a better feel for which players separate themselves as they push closer to the MVP trophy.
1. Sylvia Fowles, Chicago Sky (Last Week, 2)
The Miami native finally has the pieces added around her to get one-on-one matchups in games, and the league has been unable to stop her thus far. Sylvia has been putting up video game numbers in the first seven games, with averages of 19 points and close to 15 rebounds per game. Sylvia has shown an amazing touch on the offensive end, shooting over 60 percent from the field. Despite being dominant on offense, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year has not let up on the other side of the ball either, averaging a steal and a block per game.
2. Candace Parker, L.A. Sparks (Last Week, 1)
A flip-flop this week between Parker and Fowles. The switch has less to do with Parker falling off, but is more about Fowles’ emergence in the past two weeks. Candace is easily the most versatile and exciting player in WNBA basketball this year helping her team win games in a variety of ways. L.A. stands at 6-1 on the season and as long as Candace stays healthy will be a serious contender for a championship. Despite having two other solid options this year, Parker has still made the most of each scoring opportunity, scoring close to 19 points per game. Parker has also been sensational on defense averaging close to 2 steals and 3 blocks per night.
3. Tina Charles, Connecticut Sun (Last Week, 4)
The UConn alum has been steady this year, averaging 20 points and 11 rebounds per contest. Charles has been the leader of a much improved Connecticut Sun team, which sits at 6-1 on the season. Her position in the MVP race will be decided on the combination of how well the Sun continue to play with her performance in head-to-head matchups against Parker and Fowles.
4. Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever (Last Week, 3)
Catchings has been on fire as of late, dropping 31 points while shooting 6-9 from behind the arc against the Connecticut Sun. Tamika is the reining MVP and considered by many the best small forward in the WNBA. Despite shooting over 50 percent from the field and 87 percent in the line, the Fever have struggled, losing the past two games. Catchings in order to jump up the list will have to find ways to fill some needed gaps for the team, whether it is on the boards or getting teammates more involved in the half court.
5. Seimone Augustus, Minnesota Lynx (Last Week, 5)
Augustus has been the leader of the pack for the undefeated Lynx. Despite career lows in minutes, the LSU alum has still maintained a steady scoring average of 18 points per contest. Being up big in games combined with the depth of the roster has been the only thing slowing Seimone down. We will be able to get a better feel for how dominant Seimone and her team are as they face more stiff competition as the season goes along.
6. Epiphanny Prince, Chicago Sky (Last Week, 7)
Prince has been the most improved player in the WNBA at this point. Epiphanny has been on cloud nine early in the season, shooting over 50 percent from the field and from behind the arc, while leading the WNBA in scoring. She also has been much improved on the defensive end, with over 2 steals per game. As the Chicago continues improve, look for Prince to continue to shine in the limelight.
7. Angel McCoughtry, Atlanta Dream (Last Week, 6)
McCoughtry is the first player on the list who is playing on a team currently under .500. I don’t expect that to remain the same for the Dream, and I don’t expect Angel to stay in the bottom-five of the MVP rankings either. Despite the teams’ struggles early, the Louisville alumna is putting up large numbers this year. McCoughtry has been solid on the offensive end, averaging 22 points, but has also shown her defensive prowess as well averaging 1 block and close to 4 steals per game. Angel’s dominance on both sides of the ball will take her team to another level this year as the season progresses.
8. Kristi Tolliver, L.A. Sparks (Last Week, 9)
Kristi Tolliver has been the biggest surprise this year in the WNBA. Tolliver has been one of the hardest people to cover in the season due to her unique skill set. Kristi also benefits from fellow MVP Candace Parker and No. 1 pick Nneka Ogwumike. Tolliver is at her best when she is utilizing those options, and she has done a great job at that this season, averaging close to 6 assists per game. The Maryland alumna has proven to be the X-factor for L.A. early on.
9. Cappie Pondexter, New York Liberty (Last Week, NR)
Cappie has been sizzling hot in the past five games and as a result the Liberty have started to rebound on the season. Cappie is one of the truly special players in the WNBA—she can score in a variety of ways, and doesn’t shy away from the big moments in games. The Liberty are a defense-first team this year, and Cappie has begun to buy-in to the schemes as well, which has helped the team gain momentum.
10. Dewanna Bonner, Phoenix Mercury (Last Week, NR)
This week I went with a different member of the Mercury team, Dewanna Bonner. Despite playing shooting guard/small forward, Bonner has been a beast on the boards averaging close to 8 per game. Bonner also has shown her scoring prowess as well early in the season averaging 18 per game. Time will tell if Phoenix can improve, and if the former Auburn Tiger can continue to put up nice numbers when Diana Taurasi returns to the lineup.